With the series revolving around the world of musicians, much of the audition process for Nashville involved singing. For his Deacon Clayborne audition, Charles Esten had prepared and sang Blake Shelton songs as well as one original.
Esten had never met any of his future Nashville castmates before filming until he finished his audition when he found Hayden Paneittere listening behind the door.
"I did a couple scenes and I played a couple songs and said thank you. I walked out the door and Hayden was right outside the door, with her ear to it, in a very Juliette kind of way,” Esten told Us Weekly about his first time meeting Hayden Panettiere.
Panettiere, who would eventually be cast as Juliette Barnes, was very supportive of Esten’s performance, telling him "that was so good." After Panettiere complimented Esten's audition and they had both made their acquaintance, Esten quickly remembered her from her previous TV role on Heroes.
“I’m thinking, 'Save the cheerleader, save the world.' I knew who she was, she didn’t know who I was. But she couldn’t have been kinder, and afterwards I was sort of blowing smoke, joking around. I said, ‘See you on the set.’ I was nowhere near landing that role yet, but it turned out to be the case.”
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